Learning about the world means connecting with experiences and engagement that doesn’t always take place in the confines of a school building. That’s why it’s so important that students of all ages, backgrounds, interests and learning styles find opportunities to supplement their weekday, classroom learning in other ways.
It could mean engaging in creative endeavors like drawing, painting, theater or pottery; it could mean engaging physical learning through gymnastics, rock climbing or other outdoor activities; it could mean developing skills that can’t be refined in a math or science class – namely, social-emotional skills that can prepare young people for all manner of challenges.
Whatever way a student chooses to supplement their education, it’s essential that kids from elementary to middle to high school have access to other means of engagement, stimulation and expression. Here are some of the best bets for extracurricular activities for students in Boulder County, no matter their grade level or learning style.
YMCA of Northern Colorado
The YMCA of Northern Colorado (ymcanoco.org) is a perfect place for young people to build foundational skills that will serve them in all phases of their academic and personal life. In addition to activities and classes that run the gamut from swimming skills to martial arts to tennis, the YMCA locales in Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette and Johnstown offer young members the opportunity to engage in their community.
More specifically, the facilities’ menu of services includes opportunities for young people to make friendships, forge local connections and learn social-emotional skills that will serve them inside and outside of the classroom. Through before and after school care programs and partnered initiatives with local school districts, the YMCA of Northern Colorado seeks to help elementary, middle and high school students lead conscientious, happy and well-balanced lives. At all of its locales in northern Colorado, the YMCA seeks to build a “community hub, a place for connection, a resource to help individuals overcome challenges and a support system for families in need.”
With these foundational skills in place, young people can thrive in all sorts of settings, including in some of the best climbing gyms that Colorado has to offer. Boulder County offers all manner of opportunities to hone their craft, including ABC Kids Climbing and Boulder Rock Club.
ABC Kids Climbing
ABC Kids Climbing (abckidsboulder.com), a climbing gym for youngsters with more than 7,200 square feet of space dedicated to the sport and practice of climbing. Along with its tools for world-class, championship climbers, the gym is also dedicated to young athletes, with classes, team activities and camps.
Boulder Rock Club
Boulder Rock Club (boulderrockclub.com) is another option for aspiring climbers. This facility is proud of its status as one of the first climbing gyms in the country; they opened in 1991, and since then, they’ve fostered world-class climbers. They’ve also built up tools and resources to cater to new climbers, including teenagers who are looking to build a lifelong habit.
Airborne Gymnastics in Longmont (airbornegym.com)
is another option for students looking to supplement their school day with physical activity. With classes for all ages, Airborne Gymnastics offers students of all backgrounds and abilities the opportunity to develop the ability to express themselves creatively – in a decidedly physical way. While the facility offers plenty in the way of traditional gymnastic courses, their offerings also include trampoline and tumbling classes; “NinjaZone” curriculum that combines gymnastics, martial arts, obstacle course training and freestyle movement; and dance-themed instruction.
Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids
For those looking to develop their performance skills, Rocky Mountain Theatre for Kids also offers young students to garner valuable, real-time experience on a stage in front of an audience. With both indoor and outdoor camps and activities, the RMTK (theaterforkids.net) offers courses that cover acting instruction, music instruction and opportunities to take part in a full production. Their instruction includes camps geared for the youngest performers (ages 5 to 9), and those who may have a little more experience (ages 8 to 18).
Young artists looking for a more tactile creative experience will find plenty to do at Crackpots (ecrackpots.com), a pottery studio in Longmont where visitors can create, design and execute their own original patterns for pots of all shapes and sizes. The studio’s yearlong selection of classes includes plenty of options for young painters and creators, and their at-home kits give busy students the option to paint their own pottery in a home setting.
Finally, young history buffs looking to connect to a deeper sense of their own heritage and history will find plenty to explore at History Colorado (historycolorado.org), one of the state’s oldest and most hallowed cultural institutions. With free daily general admission for kids, the History Colorado center in the heart of downtown Denver can offer context and detail to the lessons students learn in the classroom. Visiting the museum’s exhibitions, interactive displays and state-of-the-art facility will make lessons from a book about the Centennial State come alive in new ways.
By Adam Goldstein, for Raised in the Rockies